The Itinerary: A complete guide to the home the Ducks: Eugene, Oregon
Eugene, Ore., the home of the University of Oregon, is just down the highway from two of its biggest influences as a city: Portland and Beaverton. Portland is the hipster paradise of the Northwest and the capital of cool for the young and tattooed. Beaverton is the corporate headquarters of Nike, whose co-founder, Phil Knight, is an Oregon alum and has donated millions to the school.
If you're heading to raucous Autzen Stadium to catch one of the most dominant programs of the past decade, make sure to hit these spots nearby.
To witness Portland's influence on Eugene, check out "vegan comfort food" restaurant Cornbread Cafe. As offensive as the concept of "Mac Uncheese" may be, people rave about the cashew-based cheese sauce, and the "Eugenewich" is piled with Southern-fried Surata tofu and onion rings. You can pretend to be healthy as you demolish deep-fried vegan food.
A taste of Greece via New York City. Try authentic gyros and hot dogs that are so New York, you won't know if you're on West 11th street in Manhattan or Eugene. Pro tip: is it raining? You are probably still in Oregon. Make sure to finish off your Mediterranean feast with some baklava.
You might want to hit this one without the family in tow, since it is advertised as "so good it'll make you wanna slap yo' mama!!" With live music, tons of meat and fish, and enough sides to put you into a food coma, you'll have to remember to save room for their famous bread pudding.
Pardon the pun and wolf down some waffles. Both locations in Eugene serve up Belgian treats in liège style, which are sweet and soft inside and crispy outside. You can dress them up with sugar-glazed bacon, pork belly, eggs, fruit and cheese, and even grab some frozen waffles for your home kitchen.
Microbreweries are to Oregon as lakes are to Minnesota: There are like 10,000 of them. So many, in fact, that you can make a day of it on the Eugene Ale Trail. Falling Sky grew out of a simple home brew setup to become a full-fledged gastropub, and offers multiple varieties of their handcrafted beer to sip while you snack on poutine, strawberry BBQ wings, pastrami cheese fries, polenta and pork loin.
Depending on the season, you never know what you'll get at Oakshire. They have year-round favorites, but frequently offer experimental single batch beers and even a "brewer's reserve" of extremely limited run brews. That means you'll have to come back multiple times to try different beers. Sounds like a nightmare.
A live music venue with a real dedication to food and microbrews from their own Sam Bond's Brewery. Outdoor space, bingo nights, an open Irish jam and music from rock to bluegrass make for a great experience. Get extremely local with smoked salmon chowder, made from wild Pacific salmon, or go full Oregon with some vegan pizza.
Before you get all excited: No, not like the ones from Jurassic Park. Instead, get an up-close look at eagles, falcons and hawks before you go to cheer on the Ducks. Oregon has incredible diversity when it comes to flora and fauna, and this is a great place to discover some of the coolest birds in the world, many of whom came to the Center injured or sick and have been rehabilitated back to health. They even have something called a Gyrfalcon, which sounds very Game of Thrones. Her name? Nike, of course.
Right on the University of Oregon's campus is this fantastic museum, which traces its roots back to Oregon Trail days and houses specimens from all across the region.
A favorite stop for President Obama, who picked out the mint chocolate chip, this sweet shop has dozens of flavors, including one with local Oregon bing cherries.